Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Monday, November 30, 2015

My New Stonewall Sport Saddle~

Stonewall Sport
Last Friday, a big box came in the mail!  Three months to the day since I'd ordered it!  (The wait was mitigated - since Jackie let me buy a used saddle to ride until this one was completed.  Now, that saddle will be returned for full credit.)  With no time to ride over the weekend & the ground frozen hard - by today I was champing at the bit to get it out on a ride!
Solid Ice~
I had errands in town this morning, by the time I got home & saddled - it was already after 2 p.m. & about 35 degrees.  Once we were on the trail - it was obviously, by far the worst conditions I've ever gone out in...  Farah was so full of herself - not a good combination at all...
Ice Flowers~
I dismounted to walk her on the side & was amazed to see these flowers!  So delicate & beautiful!
Another tree down~
I'd already had to saw off pointed branches on a tree that had done down on our first section of trail -  Farah hopped over.  We'd made it through the icy section, then found this tree down.  I cut off the two branches & again Farah just jumped over on her own.
A "Oh No" moment...
Another 1/2 mile further & we'd just turned the corner when we came up on this!  It really doesn't look as bad as it was.  The larger trees in the middle were about 3ft. high - with a 8" gap between the two largest.  Again, not to be stopped - at least not easily...  I got out my little saw & went to work.  I cut all the branches that were sticking up & made a clear jump path.  I tied up Farah's reins, climbed over & told her to come.  When she put a front foot between the two big ones - I got worried, but she made it through with two nice jumps.  About another 1/2-mile to Cottonwood Cathedral...
Next...  More Cottonwoods~
 Here too, they don't look as high as they are, but we couldn't get around...  About chest high, the road with a soft shoulder on both sides, with the creek flowing under, so both sides are wet & full of broken limbs, branches & debris.
Farah said she would eat the moss off at least!
  By now, I'd spent more time out of the saddle than IN it!  We turned back, I was thinking that we'd ride the south trail & at least see what was happening with the construction.
Yep, still there...
ATV's have made a way around the gate.  I wised up & decided that we'd just go right on through, loop around & take the far way back home.  That would eliminate the trees that Farah would have to jump again to get us back.  I was a little more worried about the jump coming from the other direction - so it sounded like a reasonable plan.
There were huge new homes on the far side of the road, people already moving in & putting up decorations.  Several were friendly & so surprised to see a horse going through.
Turning toward home~
As we made the turn at the far end, there were fires burning on both sides of the road.  Farah really got excited at that & all the noise, but she knew what we were up to.
Heavy equipment
I've got the "Native Growth Protection Area" signage figured out now.  They put them up, then take them down, cut down the trees, bulldoze everything - put the signs against what trees are left, at the far back of the lot where the house is going.  We thought we had it made - we'd gotten around the gate between the construction & our way home, when we came to this...
Well...  this isn't going to work...
Even Farah realized that we were stopped within a mile of getting back to our neighborhood...  Nothing to do but turn back & it was getting later by the minute.   I stopped for a few minutes to let Farah take a mental break :-)  Grazing always seems to help - when she's wired.  
Farah gets a bite~
 The saddle was working great, but it wasn't like we could do any long trotting.  I ordered the "Pocket seat" which has more padding that what the Classic did that I've been using.  (I thought it was the twist, but no - I still had my stirrups a notch too long :-)  Very comfortable - I like the pommel style much better, the pommel height of the Classic was a little tall for my short upper body.  I'm Very happy that I ordered the footman's on the sides of the pommel too - perfect place to clip my camera.
Our route~
 After all that - we only covered over six-miles & it wasn't much of a trial for the saddle.  I know it will take me time to get used to the different seat.  When I lifted it off - there wasn't a hair out of place, Farah's back looked like she hadn't had a saddle on!  Time will tell, but it's positive so far! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kathryn Taylor & Redmond Watershed

I was up early, checked with Amanda & our ride was ON!  It was a gray, cold morning - but we'd planned a ride together & were determined to get one in this Thanksgiving week!  When I unloaded Farah at Kathryn Taylor, I noticed that she was watching the ridge that overlooks the parking area.  It took me a minute, but I could just pick out the ears of a Coyote watching us.  I zoomed in & actually got the above photo of him as he moved down the hill.  Seeing him watching us - reminded me so much of Kitt.
Amanda & Cato~
 Farah was thrilled to see her friend Cato!  Cato seems to like Farah too, we did quite a lot of side-by-side trotting.  Lynn riding Sophie & Sara Jane riding Lou - joined us too!  It had been a very long while since I'd been here to ride & I'd forgotten how beautiful the trails are.
Sara Jane on Lou & Lynn on Sophie
 Amanda discussed our route with Lynn.  The park personnel are working on one set of bridges, so we detoured through a neighborhood.  It was a day that felt a little more like Winter than any of us expected. No other horsemen on the trails, just a couple bikes & hikers.
Google Route~
 Riding along side NE Novelty Hill Rd. to get to the Trilogy Trails is pretty noisy - traffic whizzes by close to the sidewalk, but all four horses did just fine.  Once across - the trails are so pretty, it's worth making the crossing.
On the Powerline Trail~
After that loop, we crossed Novelty one more time & headed down the Powerline Trail to return to the Watershed trails that would take us back to KTP.  We didn't seen any animal life at all, after riding under the new overpass that was built for wildlife.  We again discussed why that overpass wasn't built for trail users, rather than the non-existent wildlife.
Coming to the 133rd street crossing~
 This crossing not nearly as busy.  It seems so strange to come out of the beautiful wooded trails to civilization!  :-)  Even in the winter months most of these trails stay in good condition.
View from the top of the hill~
We rode up to the top of the hill, already knowing that the view would be hazy at best & we were not disappointed.
Our rigs as we come down the hill~
After the sunshine all weekend, it seemed later than it was with the cloud cover.  The day was cooling off again already.  I decided to forgo lunch & get on the road in the hope of missing most of the afternoon traffic.  There was a stalled car on the bridge going to Duvall & the usual holdups in Monroe, but we made it safely back just as the rain started at home.
Our route~
It was so good to get in such a great ride this time of year!  Thanks to all for including me!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mountain Loop & Darrington~

Up Mountain Loop~
We decided to drive the Mountain Loop to Darrington this morning.  I checked the web site & it showed the loop open.  It was just terrifically beautiful!  The road was Very icy going over all the bridges & anywhere that was in the shade.  At Barlow Pass though - the road closed signs were up :-(  I was really disappointed, we wanted to hike up to see a waterfall friends told us about.  Turn-around, drive back down, beautiful Both directions :-)  Up to Hwy 530 & on to Darrington.
Original trail to the river is just to the left of where Butch is standing~
When we arrived at the Wright property - things had again changed, but not as dramatically as it did during & after the storm.  Quite lot of what was land - is now river.  The rest of the larger trees have fallen in, one big evergreen - leaning last week, I found in the water~
Ever widening view~
 Below is my recorded GPS.  Wouldn't you know that it would decide to glitch today.  My actual start was the same as where I ended -  rather than leaving from the neighbor's to the north.  Otherwise it looks to be accurate.  I put a white pin where the outgoing tract becomes correct.
Photo documenting this dramatic change of an ever-changing landscape has been so interesting.  I walked as close to the edge of the river as possible, without falling in :-)
Looking South - house, left behind the trees~
Grandson Ben spent seven good years of his childhood here - what a lucky kid he was!  Someday, I may put all those photos together for him.  These trips up work out well - it puts Rhodes River Ranch on our return trip home!
Sunset from RRR
 Our timing works out Great too.  Late enough in the afternoon, it's pretty quiet.  Even on, or maybe because - it was a Seahawks Sunday.  We were one of only two tables occupied - that helped with the service & the food is always good!  Sunset - on our way out into the cold early evening, was perfection.
RRR Lights~
Decorating at the ranch is almost completed, such a festive way to end a spectacular late November day~

Friday, November 20, 2015

Exploring After the Storm~

It was our coldest morning to date!  I was very happy to have our power back on this morning!  Scott & Barb were heading up to the MHC to do some exploring & had invited me along.  They know the trails on this side of the tree farm as well as anyone - they put a lot of them in!
The first challenge!
Yes, of course there was a chainsaw in the back of the rig, pruners & a saw.
Blow down~
There were blown down trees everywhere we looked along most of the roads & some of the trails.  Still amazes me how shallow the roots of the big trees are.  Enough water falls from the sky - that they just don't need to sink them deep.
Clearing the way~
Scott made short work of the tree, while Barb & I hauled away the mess.  Then, we continued on up the mountain.  I was hopeful that we'd get high enough for a view or two.  We parked in a place that I recognized from my many rides here with Joyce.  I always recognize places - no problem with that - but when it comes to finding them again when I want to...  Well...
Scott & Barb in action!
I did recognize that we were going to hike up the very steep trail that I have ridden before & it's a climb!  A big rotten log was our first major obstacle.  We were throwing all the debris we found off the trail - managing to get these logs chucked off the side too.  It's a steep drop - so plenty of places to get it well off the trail.
I was as excited as usual to be high enough to see at least a little of the view!  It was just a spectacular Fall morning.  We all agreed that it wasn't as cold on the mountain as we'd expected & that was nice!
Scott looks for the trail~
We hadn't climbed much farther when suddenly we had nothing but trees & limbs in our faces.  Lots & lots of trees!  We could also hear the logging operation up higher.  Scott had heard that the logging was done, but no - they're still working.
Scott went one way, I went the other - scrambling over what we could to try to get to the top & see just how much work we'd have.  Neither of us made it...  No way!  Thank heaven Barb stayed where we could both hear her to find our way back!

Morning was almost over, noon coming up & we were hungry!  We met other friends for lunch at Ellie's near the Arlington Airfield.  Good food & good company - Great way to end a stormy, cold week!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Water, Water Everywhere~

We've had pretty much non-stop rain storms moving through since Friday.  Round after round, but this morning - there was a light dusting of snow on Deer Mountain.  With things to catch up on, we stayed home, Butch made me a back board to use as a pattern & two sign boards for a couple signs I've been trying to get painted for a few years now!
Lots of water flowing~
We can hear the creek from the house & love the sound!  Nothing unusual for mid-November.
Squirrel Tail Trail Bridge~
Later in the afternoon, it looked like we'd have some clearing long enough for me to take a walk & see if there were any places where the creek was jumping it's bank.
Under Cottonwood x-ing Bridge~
Luckily, the work I'd done earlier this year has paid off & the full length of the creek was staying in it's bed & between it's banks, just one spot where a Salmonberry had fallen in & debris was collecting.
Towards Merlin's Grove~
Before I was even half-way up into the woods, the rain started coming back.  I walked on down the hill to see how things were at the bottom, along the road.  
Toward our SE corner~
 All looked good here too.  The trail has gotten narrower as the Emerald Greens have grown!  They make such an excellent buffer from the road.  I spent the summer hauling hoses down here to try to keep a little water on them.
Lots of color still here~
The sun broke through for just a minute before the rains returned!  My work from Thursday looks good to me!  Just the stumps of the Red-Twig Dogwoods to kill off.  We still have the creek bed to get dug out again.  That chore happens every few years :-)
SE Corner~
Farah is scheduled for new shoes later this week.  I've been playing with the idea of giving her a month without shoes...  Problem is - I don't know if I can last that long without saddle time!  I do have boots, but my hands rebel at all the work to boot a horse up.  I've never had them on Farah - so it might be interesting...  We'll see~

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Before the Storm~

Up Inland Isle Trail~
Knowing the weather was going to change, it was hard to spend a beautiful day out of the saddle!  I turned Farah out - she spent the day cruising her pasture & then the yard.  I got out my big pruners, a saw & went down to our SE property corner - where the creek goes out under the fence & on down the hill.  Years ago, I'd planted red-twig, yellow leaved dogwoods.  They have ended up being the bane of my existence!  The boxwood's though - that I planted along the road a few years ago - have done great!  No maintenance, surviving Summer's heat, Winter's cold & all the water from the creek.
I spend the entire afternoon cutting the dogwoods down.  What a mess - blackberry had managed to get started under their cover, bindweed too, both coming in from the far side of the fence.  The roots of the dogwoods had even started new shoots in the creek bed - making it easier for the creek to leave it's bed when the heavy rains come.  By the time I was done, it was dark.
11-13-2008 - Kitt in the corner :-)
Over the years, I tried the pines here, they died off last year.  I'd just put the dogwoods in, thinking that they would thrive & provide lots of winter color.  They did!  But keeping them under control just isn't working anymore - Way too much work!  They'd be perfect if you had a large wet area that you wanted to go wild - but here - if I let them, the creek would overflow & flood over the road.
Nika at Cottonwood X-ing
Butch & I sat out & enjoyed the stars, really a mild evening for mid-November.  We discussed all the hard work we did in the early days here, work we were naive enough to think would last forever :-)  The most destruction, has been caused by moles.  When they moved up the valley, it was the beginning of the end, of keeping things nice.  All the hardscape rocks etc. that we put in, have been dropped inches into the dirt.  Plant roots dug up, bulbs gone, piles of dirt everywhere etc.
The creek~
The easiest to maintain though?  The woods!  Washington's Native Habitat is the best!  The only struggle is to keep all the invasive plants from adjoining properties Out!  We've never regretted our decision to keep the woods intact, after all - the main reason we bought the property, was the thrill of having our own forest as part of the Homestead!